Dmitri joined us as a Community Manager back in May when the Hutch team had already gone into lockdown. And that means he’s never actually been in the office! Dmitri’s got stuck into every element of the role entirely while working from home, and that includes filming the Top Drives Show. Here’s Dmitri on what it takes to nurture a community when you can only communicate via screens..
GOODBYE OFFICE - HELLO WFH!
The role of a Community Manager in gaming is often considered to be very hands-on, in a sense that many of your responsibilities involve running errands ‘on the ground’. For example, you can be putting together events, having discussions with devs, coordinating with artists and marketing, sending out merch, filming shows or live streaming with other members of your team.
Unsurprisingly, all these things are way easier to do when you are physically present in the office - for instance, devs can’t pretend they are AFK when you are already standing right next to them patiently waiting for an answer to the question bothering you (and now, them)! Exchange of information is instant and doesn’t require any waiting unless they are super busy. There’s also plenty of things that are done online, such as writing up patch notes, moderating forums or coordinating influencers, but being in the office allows for the quickest degree of communication.
STARTING A NEW JOB REMOTELY
While working remotely certainly was a source of anxiety when I was applying for a role in a new company in the middle of a pandemic, I was ready to face the challenge. But challenging doesn’t always mean impossible. So, as someone whose work to this day remains virtually fully remote, I can now say with confidence that the gaming industry is certainly one of the first post-modern industries which proved its survivability in almost any situation. And as digital natives become a larger proportion of the workforce, this way of work will become even more acceptable.
I loved live streaming in previous roles, so when I found out that I’d have a chance to host my game’s YouTube show, the Top Drives Show, I was thrilled. The production quality and filming locations (such as Joe Macari’s astonishing London showroom) seemed incredible and I was really excited to start
But, as we all know the lockdown and working from home still prevail, and so far all six episodes I hosted were filmed from home. While there are benefits to that, for instance I can get ‘presentable’ within minutes before the filming commences, and don’t need to spend time prepping the equipment, some things are more tricky.
FILMING AT HOME
The biggest challenge is of course the level of interactivity and quality of remote shows. While our amazing video editor is doing a splendid job at editing the show, we simply don’t have the same level of quality when recording with Macbook webcams that we could have with the professional equipment available in the office.
Our locations suffer as well, I think we might as well rename it to Top Drives Kitchen Show at this point. I’d love to film in a supercar showroom one day and get a few shots of the stunning vehicles over there, or on a racetrack with members of our team passionately talking about their own cars.
We could invite over influencers, show them our place and have deep and meaningful conversations. We could even visit factories of some of our automaker partners and highlight them to our community. Now I realise that there are so many awesome things waiting for us in the coming years!
As a filming crew, we have to use a variety of tricks to get the footage that we need even when filming from our kitchens. For instance, we chat through Zoom and our video editor records the whole process while sitting there quietly in the fourth screen which is then covered by the big Top Drives logo. Intros and outros all have to be recorded separately which sometimes takes quite a lot of takes. Finally, there is an issue of uploading 5GB files to Dropbox as all of us also record second angles with our phone cameras. While such an approach takes less time than filming in the office, the quality and variety is simply not there.
For me personally, the biggest challenge remains that after three months I still haven’t met anyone whom I’m working with directly. While it isn’t a problem with most people, others need a bit more of your charm than usual to earn their trust, and it’s just so hard to achieve through the screen. Indeed, the pandemic showed that personal contact is a vital part for any job, even if most things can be done remotely.